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Expulsion for protest unfair

By January 17, 2008

What happens when a college student peacefully criticizes the actions of his university’s administration? At Valdosta State University, new details are emerging in an incident that appears to offer a disturbing answer to that question.

After reading about this incident in numerous media sources, I examined publicly available documents to try to uncover an answer. However, what I found only exacerbated my concerns.

In what should be of interest to all University System of Georgia students who value their First Amendment rights, this case reveals major issues with how far freedom of speech extends on university campuses.

The incident began with the most American of traditions: a peaceful, spirited protest by a determined individual.

In a scenario reminiscent of Tate II, a new parking garage costing $30 million was announced for the VSU campus, to be funded with student fees.

T. Hayden Barnes, a VSU student, was angered by the garage and fought back peacefully and legally, sending e-mails to senior administrators and putting up fliers around campus protesting the garage.

Unfortunately for Barnes, his repeated letters roused the ire of VSU President Ronald Zaccari, who at the end of last spring semester personally ordered Barnes to be “administratively withdrawn”—expelled—specifically citing a collage Barnes posted on Facebook, which Zaccari claimed amounted to a “clear and present danger... Download file "Expulsion for protest unfair"

Schools: Valdosta State University